Nobody paid much notice when ten years ago, Mike Judge's locally made Office Spaceopened and closed in theatres in the blink of an eye. A lot came happen in ten years, though, and the cult hit that won't quit is now getting a fancy Blu-Ray release on Feb. 3 and – can we get an "O" face? – a big anniversary/reunion screening at the Paramount Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 8, as presented by SXSW and Fantastic Fest. Judge will most definitely be in attendance, as will select – and as yet undisclosed – members of the cast. (Ron Livingston: You can Post-It note us any day of the week.)
Tickets go on sale at noon this Thursday, Jan. 15, but for 2009 SXSW and Fantastic Fest badgeholders only. The general public will have a shot at 'em starting at noon on Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Paramount box office or online at gettix.net. There are also a limited number of VIP tickets available. For more info, check out sxsw.com or fantasticfest.com.
Actually, make that the other screen. It's not the cable news network, but its online cousin that is teaming with Facebook, the popular social networking site, to glean FB users' reactions to the event (via status reports) and offer them in real time on CNN.com during the actual inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, according to a MediaWeek.com report.
Since the inauguration is happening during the workweek, the enormous interest in the event is likely to keep a lot of workers distracted from their normal activities as they try to follow the historic event online and through other media sources. CNN.com wants to capitalize on this activity by luring Facebook users and driving viewers to their site in the process.
CNN.com will stream the event live, including a "mini-Facebook" window in the corner of their site. Facebook users can update their status, remark on what they're seeing, and have their status reports show up on CNN.com.
It would be even cooler if CNN would show the Facebook status updates on their cable network. But who knows? Speaking it is the first step in making something come to life. Read More | Comment »
The HBO folks have pumped up the name of their inaugural special. It's now called:
WE ARE ONE: THE OBAMA: INAUGURAL CELEBRATION AT THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL
It airs Sunday, Jan. 18 at 6pm on HBO.
Unlike years past, several other cable networks are bringing their cameras to the inauguration: Nickelodean is bringing cub reporters to the scene as is MTV and other typically entertainment-centric sights.
Online, CBS will steam the actual inauguration live with Katie Couric and the CBS team on hand to offer comments and whatnot during the event. Let's hope they keep the chatter down to a minimum. There's nothing worse than someone telling you everything you're seeing, when you're looking right at it. Read More | 1 Comment »
Okay, yeah, I know it's been a week since part one of my Top Ten Redux, but I've been gnawing on a mouthful of new DVD releases and wondering if they merit inclusion here.
They don't, although one not-so-new DVD box set does: Sony's Ray Harryhausen Collection. It Came From Beneath the Sea, Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers, and 20 Million Miles to Earth, all three in glorious black and white or – ick – inglorious colorized versions. Plus, 20 million extras, the best of which are new commentaries from Harryhausen, effects artists/filmmakers Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, and others (including, wouldn't you know it, Tim Burton. Nice piece on Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers' blacklisted screenwriter Bernard Gordon. Saucers = commies, see? Very scary, in a Red Menace kinda way. For my money, it's altogether the best box set of late '08. And the marketing genii at Sony even saw fit to make this nifty/cheesy flash animation game to promote it. Gee whiz, guys, that's just swell.
Back on-screen (if not yet in Austin) and without further ado, here's the part two of my Top Ten Redux. Read More | Comment »
As the big day draws near, more information about programming on or around the big day comes forth. Here are some more updates:
FoxNews and MSNBC will stream the Obama Inauguration live on their websites, while CNN.com will use three streams to accommodate their tag teaming with FaceBook to gather and share viewer impressions, in real time, during the inauguration.
Some where in the flurry, I read that ABC.com is supposed to post Inaugural speeches from years past (yawn), but a quick tour around their site didn’t find any promises of that happening anytime soon. But who knows—that could change by the time you read this. Read More | Comment »
I haven't had a television set for two years, so I haven't been able to keep up with all the primetime whositwhatsit. However, a week ago, I got a hand-me-down set for free. Since then I have become a fan of House, the sarcastic doctor show that is refreshingly more cynical and (perhaps) realistic than its other scrub-wearing predecessors.
But, last night, House got really real for me, spicing up the episode with a little lesbian action. And I met Thirteen, a doctor on House's team who, after a (Huntington's) diagnosis with less than 10 years to live, has taken on a lifestyle of club drug use and random one-nighters with hot lesbian lovers. Read More | Comment »
When you've helmed one of the biggest movies of the year, everything after is probably a comedown. But at least Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke has something new to look forward to – induction into the Texas Film Hall of Fame! The UT graduate and McAllen native will be joined by film and TV legends Powers Boothe (Red Dawn) and Larry Hagman (Dallas) in the TFHoF's class of 2009.
The ceremony typically takes place on the Friday night the SXSW Film Festival kicks off, but the Austin Film Society announced that this year's shindig will take place on Thursday, March 12 – which means no more painful choosing between the Hall of Fame's stars and open bars and SXSW's opening night films. Best of every world, I tell ya. Read More | Comment »
Local filmmaker Marcy Garriott sends word that her film Inside the Circle will begin airing on MTV this weekend. The locally produced film about the grassroots hip-hop movement in Texas was a fan favorite at SXSW and other film festivals. Screenings begin Sunday, Jan. 11 at 8am and 6pm, with additional screenings on Jan. 12, 14, and 15. Check local listings for more dates and times. Read More | Comment »
To begin with, Marley is dead, and top ten lists are insane, or, at the very least, they can drive you insane. It's a sweet kind of madness, however, blood kin to that of Bram Stoker's insectivorous Renfield. Locked away in a small, dark room, sustaining himself on madhouse flies and in thrall to the black-light flickerings of his master, Renfield is the very model of a modern minor film critic at year's end. "He's coming," this pasty-faced fanatic gibbers to anyone within earshot. "The Master is coming!" Which, frankly, sounds way too close to what I and my fellow critical counterparts have been writing lately: "It's coming! The best movie of ... ever! For god's sake, man, you've simply got to see it!" Or, in the case of, say, Baz Luhrman's Australia, "Unclean! Unclean! Beware! Steer clear!" Frankly, I much prefer Brian Trenchard-Smith's Australia:
Still, we are similar in our derangements, Renfield and I. We inhabit the dark and we worship the shadows that play across the walls. True, he devours bugs while I prefer to snack on edamame, and my dreams-to-nightmares ratio benefits from a superior audio/video system and precious few rats to speak of, but the metaphor remains apt. Mad about the cinema is still mad. Call me crazy.
Like all art and most worthwhile experiences, writing about film is an innately subjective endeavor: one person's Death Race 2000 is another, lesser person's Death Race. And no critic's top ten list is ever truly complete. Ten is a fine figure with which to tally digits, dimes, and dames, but movies? Not so good. Even the worst year has twice that many overlooked, under-marketed, or unreleased gems that simply beg to be seen, and believed. Hence this addendum list. Ten extremely worthy films (in one case a book) that didn't make it onto my official Austin Chronicle year end canon.
Why not? Various reasons: some only screened at Fantastic Fest, a couple didn't play at all and went straight to DVD, or they simply haven't been released. Nevertheless, each and every one blew my eyes out the back of my head, or made me cheer, or had somebody cheering at the fact my eyes were exploding out the back of my head (David Cronenberg, I suspect). They're all cinematic triumphs in their own unique ways, and they deserve to be seen. Preferably in the dark, and nowhere near Carfax Abbey, unless, you know, you're mad too... Read More | Comment »
It's only the second day of the year and 2009 is already looking better than '08. On January 1, 2009, the MLB Network began airing on Time Warner Cable Ch. 423 and DirecTV Ch. 213 – available at no extra charge to TWC digital-cable subscribers, unlike the NFL Network which is only available by subscription through DirecTV. I tuned in a couple hours ago and haven't changed the channel since. Lou Gehrig's courageous speech (baseball's Gettysburg Address), Roberto Clemente's tragic flight, Jackie Robinson's heroic debut as the first African-American player in the league, and Cal Ripken's epic consecutive-games-played streak are just a few of the stories I've seen today on the MLB Network. Happy New Year, baseball fans! Read More | Comment »
A few final thoughts from the year in film 2008:
1. Why does Hollywood insist on hiring British actors for the lead roles in Philip Roth adaptations? A few years back Anthony Hopkins played an African-American posing as a white American Jew (with a Welsh accent) in The Human Stain; this year we had Ben Kingsley as American Jewish professor David Kapesh in Elegy. I don’t get it. Richard Benjamin is still acting, right? What about Judd Hirsch? Dustin Hoffman? Jeff Goldblum? Harvey Fierstein? Steve Guttenberg? Albert Brooks? Larry David? Richard Dreyfuss? Harvey Keitel? Rob Reiner? Mel Brooks? Ron Jeremy? Alan Greenspan? Elie Weisel? Mel Gibson?
I’m starting to understand how Puerto Ricans must have felt when they watched West Side Story for the first time.
2. I’m worried that people might read my top 10 list and think I’m a snob who hates America and loves Europe, when in reality I’m a snob who hates America and Europe in equal measure. Read More | 2 Comments »
By and large, the big studio pictures didn’t do bubkes for me this year. That might sound like the regular grumblings of some art snob, but believe you me, I love a big, expensive, studio to-do – the epics, the adaptations, the serious dramas Hollywood only seems to put out when we’re rounding awards season. But again and again, they just fell flat for me. Gran Torino was a joke, Benjamin Button a bore, and Milk should have been so much more (which is not to say that, as is, it isn't a hell of a lot). Slumdog was a slick feel-gooder that left me tepid (sweet dance, though). Frost/Nixon was a well-executed, satisfying film, and that's fine. And sure, The Wrestlerhad a terrific performance by Mickey Rourke (surprisingly emotive for a face so reconstructed it looks like you could stick a pushpin through it and still not make a dent) and a loose, lovely camaraderie with the other wrestlers – but its arc was paint by numbers. (An estranged daughter? Stripper with a heart of gold? Garrr.)
So 2008 didn’t have the kind of films that got a universal nod – no There Will Be Blood, no No Country for Old Men, no Lives of Others. But I liked 2008 even better, because what we got – at least from the foreign and arthouse offices – were demanding and dividing movies. Ask any critic and they’re bound to start frothing over that one or two or three movies that set them on fire this year; ask the next critic and you’ll get a good lather over three totally different movies. (It’s also worth noting that in the end-of-the-year crush, we’re watching anywhere from 1 to 3 movies a day; screening fatigue for me set in about a week ago, which is why I still haven’t seen Che or Doubt or Gomorrah or My Winnipeg. Just… step off, alright? I’m dancing as fast I can.) Read More | Comment »
You know when you love a movie and you want to shout it from the rooftops? Well, this is me scaling the wall and bellowing with all the bluster I've got in me, Austin: Go see A Christmas Tale! You have three crummy chances left to see this marvelous French film before it skips town for good.
Now I could go on and on about how ridiculous it is that a supposedly cinema-loving town can't sustain one of the best-reviewed films of the year for more than a week, or that IFC Films really bungled the job here, by under-advertising the film and mailing out screeners too late for some critics groups to give it the proper attention it deserves – but that's all in the past. What we have now is the present, and, like I said, presently only three more chances to see this funny, sexy, ecstatic panorama of despair and family dysfunction. (It's feel-good, too, I swear it!) It's playing tonight through Wednesday at 7:45pm at the Dobie.
A couple of new developments came down the pike from our friends and neighbors at SXSW Film. (Seriously -- they live on the other side of our volleyball court. And, yes, seriously, we have a volleyball court.)
Firstly, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that SXSW is now recognized as an Oscar-qualifying venue for the short film category. What does that mean? Well, let's ask the nice folks at Cinematical: "[F]or short films [to be considered for an Oscar], they either have to play theatrically (for three consecutive days, at least twice a day), OR win a best-in-category award at an Academy-approved film festival." And now SXSW is Academy-approved. (Little late to the game, aren't you, Academy?)
Secondly was last night's announcement of opening night film I Love You, Man. Based on the tagline alone, we're calling it as another addition to the rapidly expanding bromance canon – it stars Paul Rudd as a groom shopping around for a best man. The film, written and directed by John Hamburg (Along Came Polly), also stars Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtin, Jon Favreau, and Jamie Pressly.
It's an interesting selection – under former SXSW director Matt Dentler's leadership, SXSW developed a reputation as a buzz-building launchpad for comedy. The selection of I Love You, Man may – or may not – indicate that new director Janet Pierson is committed to keeping SXSW in the comedy loop. Then again, Todd Haynes has already been announced as one of SXSW 2009's featured speakers... and I doubt we'll be seeing any bromances from him anytime soon. It'd be kinda awesome if we did, though. Read More | Comment »
"Ah! there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." – Emma
The weatherman says the temperature won't top 40 degrees today, which makes it the perfect day to celebrate the birth of Jane Austen – that endless fount of wit and witticism, that sly tweaker of social mores, that shockingly sensible romantic – by staying in and curling up with one of her delicious reads. But, if like me, you're stuck at work, then I guess the next best thing is to troll YouTube for the many Austen offerings – I especially recommend 1995's Persuasion and the sparky, protofeminist Mansfield Park (with Harold Pinter!), the definitive BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries (BBC, those cheeky bastards, have the celebrated pond dip up, but won't let me embed it) and Joe Wright's abbreviated, but still very worthy adaptation.
But certainly at the top of the charts of Austen moments in film is Emma Thompson's spontaneous sob at the end of Sense and Sensibility. Like I said – the end of Sense and Sensibility, so, you know, spoiler alert.
Read More | Comment »
Egads but it's been a lousy week for genre film fans. We'll get around to all the unjoy as soon as possible, but for the moment we'll lead with the sad news about the notorious Bettie Page.
The iconic, Fiftes-era pin-up queen and pop-cultural touchstone is in a coma following a heart attack on Dec. 2. Page, 85, is presently listed in critical condition at a Los Angeles hospital, as reported by Aint It Cool News and more retro geek-chic, Bettie-friendly blogs than we can count on ten cat o' nine tails.
For those of you living in the Bible Belt (or thereabouts), here's a sampling of what the hubbub's about, the classic PG-13-friendly stag loop "Bettie Page's Fireplace Dance."
This being Austin, the raven-haired goddess has a local connection, of sorts, in the form of author/publisher Rick Klaw, whose grandfather Irving Klaw was the photographer behind many of Page's most famous photo shoots and nudie-cutie film reels.
We rang up Klaw, who's working on a mammoth Bettie-related project of his own, to get his take on Page's enduring (and endearing) pop-culture status. Read More | Comment »
It's official: A feature in the Chronicle is the kiss of death to anything or anyone video-game oriented in Austin. First came the news that game-publisher Gamecock Media lost its financial backer and sold to SouthPeak (read my story on those clowns during their salad days). Now, following the recent news that Austin gaming god Richard Garriott – after returning to Earth from his space flight – would be leaving NCsoft, the company announces it is pulling the plug on its online game (and Garriott's most recent hurrah) Tabula Rasa due to sales that have slumped from the onset. You can read Joey Seiler's article on that crew, too. Compounding the already dour situation, NCsoft will be sacking employees. This on top of a previous round of layoffs a few months back.
Tabula Rasa is slated to go out with a bang offering free online service to players starting Jan. 10 and all manner of virtual-world antics.
I blame the parasitic alien that has clearly taken control of Garriott's mind for the entire economic downturn. Who flies into space when your company is going under? A man controlled by aliens, that's who. Read More | Comment »